The two issues in the case revolved around the council’s handling of the application in terms of validation and the fact that the proposal affected the green belt. The council had not validated the outline application for the adventure golf facility because it felt that there was insufficient information on reserved matters regarding appearance, layout, scale and landscaping to determine the proposal’s impact on green belt openness. The inspector agreed that the proposal’s impacts were difficult to establish but considered that enough information had been provided for the application to have been validated.
In reaching this view, she noted that the submission included an application form, a certificate of ownership, the statutory fee, a site location plan, an illustrative development site plan, an illustrative layout, an ecological survey, a tree survey, a transport statement and a statement of design parameters. She also referred to article 7(3) of the Development Management Procedure (England) Order 2015, which states that, except where article 5(3) on access matters applies, an outline application does not need to give details of any reserved matters.
In assessing the scheme’s impact on openness, the inspector noted that the "dinosaur-themed" golf facility would require engineering operations to reshape the land and extend the car park, as well as works to erect a substantial number of sizeable structures. She found insufficient information about the scale of these structures, particularly their form and height, to determine their impact on openness. She dismissed the appeal on this basis.
A partial award of costs against the council was refused. The inspector determined that the council had acted unreasonably in failing to specify why the outline application did not meet the validation requirements and failing to notify the applicant within a reasonable period, resulting in the appeal. However, she concluded that this behaviour had not caused unnecessary or wasted expense, as the applicant was likely to go to appeal anyway on the merits of the scheme.
Inspector: Susan Harley; Written representations